About once every two years or so, the mail contains something more horrifying than a Tucson summer electric bill.

Line of potential jurors/Ryn Gargulinski

Line of potential jurors/Ryn Gargulinski

It’s the jury duty summons.

After checking the date to find it inevitably coincides with a vacation we’ve been planning for months, we send in, and are granted, a request for postponement.

But the date arrives once again. Mine is this morning.

Since my past jury duty experience has consisted of being held prisoner in a large room with a bunch of strangers that look as unhappy as I am to be there, it can get pretty boring.

Thus I have devised a number of ways to kill time while I am forced to sit there. And sit there. And sit there.

Creative ways to kill time during jury duty:

Write, draw, fantasize about being on a deserted island with more clothes than Ginger had.

Play the “make more words” game. Pick a word, any word, and use the letters within the word to make more words. A good jury duty example would be the word “boring.” We can make the following: bin, rob, gin, bring, ring, gob, nib, big, rig and bon (since French words are allowed).

These shoes would get a 10 for style, a ZERO for comfort/Ryn Gargulinski

These shoes would get a 10 for style, a ZERO for comfort/Ryn Gargulinski

Rate shoes. I picked up this trick during countless New York City subway rides, where you get a fine array of footwear at which to stare. Check out everyone’s shoes and rate them on the following criteria: comfort, usefulness, looks and the biggie: would you be caught dead in them?

Count traits. This game was invented in church, where you can count how many people are wearing hats without even turning around in your pew. It works in any situation, where you can count how many of any trait are in the room. These include, but are not limited to: glasses, false teeth, male/female ratio, toupees and wigs, bad makeup and ugly shirts.

Knit. Folks who knit have it made during a number of mind-numbing activities. While others sit and stew, the crafty creators happily knit one, pearl two for hours on end. I’ve watched a woman complete an entire scarf once during a long subway ride. Of course, it may be kind of tough to bring knitting needles into a court house lest the knitter go berserk and stab a bailiff in the neck.

Advanced time killers:

This cute old man is an ideal "create a life" candidate/Ryn Gargulinski

This cute old man is an ideal "create a life" candidate/Ryn Gargulinski

Create lives. Pick a random individual – man, woman, old, young, whatever – and construct his or her life. Decide where the person works; if he is single, married, divorced, murderer of his spouse; number of pets and kids; and what he ate for breakfast. Continue creating his life, giving him a number of obstacles that he can overcome with aplomb or at which he can fail miserably. Don’t forget to name him.

Play with math. This is a very advanced time killer that involves calculating the daily wages of each person in the room and then compiling an overall tally of the wages being lost while everyone just sits there.

There are also several things you should not do in a jury duty waiting room, no matter how enticing they may seem.

Paint your toenails. That’s just gross. Besides, the smell will make people complain.

Tweeze nose hairs. Again, disgusting. Don’t pick your nose, either.

Talk to strangers. Even starting a little small talk can be dangerous, as you’ll be stuck in the room with these folks for several hours. You will both become uncomfortable after the small talk ends, wondering if you should say more and if it would be rude to go take a seat 100 miles away from the person.

Sleep. As dreamy as this option sounds – especially since a jury duty day kind of destroys any chance of the usual afternoon nap – you will most likely miss being called to the front. You will then be marked absent and a summons will be issued for your arrest. These time killers don’t work as well in jail.

Please note: if you do, in fact, get called to sit on a jury, these tactics are not recommended during an actual trial.



What has your jury duty experience been like?

How do you kill time during the waiting?

Have you ever been put on an exciting trial – or any trial?